France Surf Travel Guide
From rocky point breaks on the Brittany coast, world class beach breaks on the Bay of Biscay to big wave reefs down in the Basque Country, France has enough waves and swell to keep everyone entertained. Not to mention it boasts the longest beach in Europe and the warmest water of the whole of Atlantic Europe. And we haven’t even mentioned the wine, the food or the culture.
Beach breaks around Hossegor recognised as best in the world
Consistent through summer, autumn and spring, though cold in winter
Majority of waves are beachbreaks, but can still hold swell up to 7m
World’s best fine dining experience, exceptional countryside and highly renowned cities
Where to surf
The main surf hubs are on the southwest coast around Biarritz, Hossegor and Lacanau. The north coast of Brittany also does score swell, especially in winter while the Mediterranean Sea has fickle gems breaking in the most amazing of locations. Hossegor has some very heavy beach breaks, shifting sand bars that can make for long rolling waves as well as a deep water marine trench directly in front of the Central Plage (Beach), that with the right swell can produce waves in the 30-40ft mark. Basque Country, as with most regions in France, offers great waves for learners and those looking to improve, but it’s an even more special place for those advanced surfers looking for some challenging waves – with some spots frequented by tow-in crew as they will hold up to 7m swell.
Best Surf Breaks
La Graviere – a really heavy, barrel with a thick lip just to the north of the Rock Food; it’s basically a serious shorebreak onto the beach.
La Nord – when the swell is over 6 foot it breaks into deeper water straight out the front of the Rock Food. There is a channel to get you out the back, the waves are big and heavy and the hold-downs are sobering….these waves are for the intermediate to advanced surfer.
La Sud – located on the Hossegor side of the port. If the waves are huge, the only place to surf is in between the groynes at Capbreton, which is more suitable for beginners as it is sheltered from the big swells.
Les Culs Nus – literally translated as bare bum beach, you’ll need to walk through the naturalists on the beach to get to some really good A-frame barrels.
Guethary – France’s premier big wave reefbreak that holds serious size. It’s a 20-minute paddle out the back. It breaks in deep water onto a reef and is for experienced surfers only. It’s a powerful wave with a big ledgey take-off and a nice drop leading back to the channel but doesn’t get good until the waves hit 5 or 6 foot, however it holds up to a solid 15 ft. and bigger! Going left when it’s big will leave you in the impact zone and watch out for the currents. Be very respectful of this powerful wave and the locals will command respect too.
Lafitenia - rare pointbreak near the Spanish border. Attracta the crowds from far and wide, especially when the northern beaches in Hossegor are too big to surf. Depending on the swell direction, it’s usually a few feet smaller.
Bidart is another safe and fun wave, perfect for learners, rights and lefts break onto a sandy / rock bottom.
Hendaye is the ideal spot for beginners, it’s a big beach on the border of Spain where the waves are way less heavy than up north.
Les Cavaliers - a stretch of coast that is interrupted by a series of jetties on the southern side of the beach offering protection from the wind. This area tends to close out when the swell gets bigger than a solid 6 – 8 foot.
When to go
The best time of the year to surf in France is the autumn, which coincides with the annual CT surfing competition. September and October are still warm, but the first of the winter swells start to arrive. Blue skies and all-day offshore winds are also common. Springtime can be fun too, with less crowds and warmer temperatures. July and August are usually crowded and while the waves are still fun, they are less consistent and smaller.
France boats arguably the worlds finest dining, exceptional countryside and highly renowned cities. Go to Paris for a romantic getaway or scoot down to the south of France near Bordeaux for a relaxing trip, sampling wine and farm fresh cheese. The French Alps offer some of the most scenic landscapes, and best skiing, in Europe. For more adrenalin fuelled missions there is rafting, cycling and kayaking and in the Pyrenees mountains you can snowboard in the morning and surf in the afternoon.
The region of France has been inhabited for almost 2 million years. Hunter gatherers have long lived in this area with its fertile soil and plentiful wildlife. The famous cave of Lascaux has some of human’s first evidenced artworks. Later France’s medieval period is one of the most mesmerizing and ancient structures can be found all throughout the country. Famous painters and artists came from France in droves, supplementing the world with incomparable masterpieces. Today, there is a huge diversity of life in France. You can live in the major cities, out in smaller towns, or way out in the countryside. It has retained, and celebrated, its unique way of life and to visit is to experience a truly great culture.
Fly into Paris (CDG), or chose other international airports in Bordeaux (BOD), Lyon (LYS) and Nice (NCE). Domestic air travel is easy and trains are fast and efficient.
230 V – Plug type: C, E